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I Tried It: Cellular Fitness

Claire Trageser, 31, University Heights

You Try It!

The Sporting Club
8930 University Center Lane, UTC area
858-522-8000
$25–$35 per session, for members
thesportingclub.com

I’m not an elite runner by any stretch, but I do challenge myself to break my personal records, or PRs, when I race. Running a race faster than I ever have before makes me feel like I’ve trained hard and accomplished a goal.

When I lined up at the Silver Strand Half Marathon in November, I was hoping to break my record of 1:48:47. But it was not to be. I’d caught a cold the week before, and as I passed mile 8 my legs felt weak and my pace began to slow. I pushed as hard as I could.

Shortly after that disappointing race, my editor asked me to try a new contraption. It’s called the Cyclic Variations in Adaptive Conditioning, or CVAC, pod.

“Advanced technology and science combine to deliver progressive low-pressure air changes that rhythmically squeeze and relax the whole body, including the organs and even blood, right down to a cellular level,” according to the website.

“All i had to do was sit there and let the pod do its thing.”

This “cellular massage” is supposed to help your lymphatic system reduce inflammation, which means your muscles are less tired and sore after hard workouts. It is also supposed to increase stamina and energy, and create deeper sleep.

I met CVAC representative Ian Robb at The Sporting Club, and he showed me to the pod. As I climbed inside I tried not to think about the spaceship from Contact and its ability to teleport to an alternate universe. Robb promised I’d be perfectly safe—all I had to do was sit there and let the pod do its thing. “Some people even fall asleep,” he said.

The CVAC pod doesn’t move, but it does take you on a journey. Using changing amounts of air pressure, it simulates elevations from sea level to mountaintops, and quickly raises you and drops you between those extremes over and over during a five-minute session. I started on the most mild level. I felt like I was in an airplane taking off. My ears repeatedly clogged.

“It gets a little more exciting at the end,” Robb said to me via walkie-talkie—the sealed door and rushing air mean you can’t hear outside. My ears popped again and again, until finally I glided smoothly back to sea level. I definitely wasn’t falling asleep.

Most pod devotees do two to three 20-minute sessions a week, and Robb said I’d need at least 10 to notice a difference. But after two sessions, I ran 14 miles with four miles at race pace and nailed it. Maybe it was the pod, or maybe its fancy science was tricking me into thinking I was stronger.

After a few more sessions and a lot more miles run, I lined up at the Holiday Half. I felt strong during the entire race and broke my personal record by more than five minutes, with a time of 1:43:25. I can’t say whether it was the CVAC or all the training I did, or because the race had a lot of downhills. I do know that during the race I ran from 700 feet to sea level without my ears popping once.

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